Retired B.C. teachers cheered, hugged and in several cases wept after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in their favour in a lengthy battle with the B.C. government over class sizes and other working conditions.

OTTAWA – Retired B.C. teachers cheered, hugged and in several cases wept after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in their favour in a lengthy battle with the B.C. government over class sizes and other working conditions.

The 7-2 decision came less than a half hour after lawyers representing lawyers for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, and union groups across the country, argued that Victoria violated the teachers’ constitutional right to bargain collectively.

Pitted against them were lawyers from the B.C., federal, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments making conflicting arguments.

“We’re elated, this has been a long journey,” said BCTF President Glen Hansman.

The decision overturned the B.C. Court of Appeal’s 2015 ruling in favour of the government, and restored the original decision in the union’s favour by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin.

The government touched off the battle in 2002 by passing legislation that stripped class size, class composition and specialist teacher provisions from the teachers’ contract and passed a law denying teachers the right to bargain those issues in the future.

When the teachers successfully challenged that decision the government, after consulting with the union, moved in 2012 to pass essentially the same restrictions.

BCTF President Glen Hansman, seated wearing glasses and a black shirt outside the Supreme Court of Canada entrance, with retired teachers and their spouses who travelled to Ottawa for Thursday’s hearing and decision.

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